15) Washed Ashore
– April 17th – 21st, 2014
We continued north along the Pacific coast as we moved into Oregon, and didn’t stop much until night, except once in Gold Beach at the Visitor’s Centre where we got a pamphlet on the historical lighthouses of Oregon, and then once more at the Cape Blanco Lighthouse which was closed and only offered tours a couple days of the week. We found a public boat launch that night in a town called Bandon, where we hiked along the steep cliffs by the ocean where dark waves crashed repeatedly onto sandy shores of driftwood in the translucent haze of a royal blue fog. I think that here has its own special colours, dreamlike blue skies that could just pop in their depth of blueness, flowers everywhere of vibrating deep yellow against a glowing green forever of lush life.
ART 101 caught my eye in the form of a painted sign by a building, though I wasn’t sure what to make of it, and there was another place, the West Coast Game Park Safari, with promises of “See the baby cub”. At least this second place, for now, we thought we would want to see, though it was getting later in the day, and were running out of gas. The Old Town of Bandon was coming up in a few miles north of here. We would fill our tank, find a place to sleep, which was the empty parking lot of a boat launch surrounded by forest and total privacy, and tomorrow we would pick up where we left off.
In the morning on Thursday April 17th we went to the West Coast Game Park Safari, an outdoor zoo where a good portion of the animals roamed free along the walking paths between the other fenced in animals. There were some animals, like tigers, that were fully fenced off, and in the best interest of everyone around. Others included kangaroo, lemur, fox, bear, javelina, bobcat, ostrich, reindeer, and my new favourite, the capybara, the largest rodent in the world, comparable to a medium size dog and with a big furry snout and a soft noble face. Along the zoo’s walkways were dozens of goats including baby goats who were really ridiculous, following us around, and chewing on our clothes when we were distracted feeding another goat some of the feed they sold us at the entrance. More animals, deer, donkeys, llamas, peacocks fanning their feathers, all roamed free and around us as we walked through the outdoor zoo, the largest on the west coast, they said. There was even a llama laying peacefully upright on the ground who never flinched once as baby goats took turns jumping onto his back and then launching themselves off, baa-ing their stupidly cute or cutely stupid faces off in animal joy.
One of the employees ran a near continuous hands on demonstration time with certain baby animals, where we could pet a baby fox or a baby bobcat or even the baby cub we had seen promoted out front the evening before. But before we saw any of this, I had gone back inside the main building to buy more animal feed and found the girl behind the counter playing with the bear cub out on the floor of the gift shop! I ran to get Kat and we both hurried back into the gift shop to see and pet the bear cub who was obviously adorable, making cute little snarling sounds in aggressive play mode and running awkwardly around the shop. She had been raising the bear along with the owner for only six weeks and said he had basically doubled in size! I think we wandered around at least a couple of hours before heading out.
We worked our way back to Art 101, and it was this second time approaching the building, which we knew nothing about yesterday and had only considered ourselves interested enough to come back since it was near the zoo anyway, that I noticed clearly sorted piles of what looked to be garbage all around the southern side of the property, surrounding a large yurt. It was clear to us after a couple of months living at East Jesus, that garbage sorted by colour or size or in any way, in this magnitude at least, could only mean one thing: art. I guess it didn’t interfere with our conclusion either that the word “art” was right in the name of the place that we were arriving at, whatever else it might represent. The sign read in subtitle, “Home of the Sea Cave”.
Hmm. Let’s see if somebody can show us around. Here comes someone now as a matter of fact. Her name was Mary, and Mary toured us around the main building which was both an office space and a former and occasional art gallery or showroom, and also featured the Sea Cave, and quadrupled as an assembly space for large scale art projects. Mary showed us the yurts which were basically work spaces and storage spaces for materials (garbage), and the finished sculptures around the land, not unlike something we would have seen around the desert art gardens of East Jesus, but all with an ocean/marine theme.
There was a fish sculpture named Henry, maybe ten feet long and made entirely of bits of plastic, and a massive seagull maybe a dozen feet high created in similar fashion. The Sea Cave as it turned out was a constructed room within the main room of the Art 101 building, maybe eight feet cubed. It was finished with bits of scarf and sweater and odd materials to resemble its namesake, an underwater sea cave. The materials were gone over with some special paint that glowed in the dark, and to complete the experience, when you closed the curtain behind you upon entering the Sea Cave, the lights would go out and you would be left in the dark surrounded in all directions by a glowing sea cave.
The Sea Cave is the work of Angela Haseltine Pozzi, creator of Art 101, and most recently her newest project, Washed Ashore. At some point before we were here in Bandon, it seems that Washed Ashore had at some point taken over the Art 101 building, a project that makes art using only garbage washed up onto the Pacific shores to point attention at the current polluting of our oceans. There was a second, public, showroom in Old Town Bandon for previous Washed Ashore art pieces to sit on display. Some of the art pieces were even interactive, including a percussive piece tuned to the key of E flat.
Mary was so friendly and it was nice hearing her enthusiasm for the project, and before long we were wondering how much time we might be able to spend volunteering for the upcoming Washed Ashore project, an installation of marine art for the San Francisco Zoo! This was a huge commission for Washed Ashore and was going to require hundreds of hours of participation to make a large scale, walkthrough, interactive, art installation. Kat and I figured we could stay for a couple of days. After spending so long in Slab City we really had to keep our pace in order to make it back into Canada by the required time only a few weeks from now. Besides, I was set to perform some music at Hawthorne Theatre in Portland on the 26th, and that was our other basic deadline as well. Mary offered that we pull our car and camper onto her two acre property only minutes from Old Town Bandon for those couple of days.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is difficult to quantify in terms of size, because plastic does photodegrade but plastic does not ever disappear! It will break down to the molecular level, and is being consumed into the food chain, the effects of which are still unknown. Whatever the size, it is massive, and has been estimated to be anywhere from a quarter million up to fifteen million square miles, or commonly put, “twice the size of the continental United States”. The initiative of Washed Ashore is to bring attention to such realities and open discussion for thoughts and solutions, while maintaining a focus on positive community interaction.
We had been curious about the words Done Deal on the back of Mary’s car as we followed her back to her house, and when we arrived, we noticed those same words on the van in the driveway: Done Deal. Curious, we asked Mary about it, and she told us it was her band. Her partner Anthony had a small recording studio in the house, with tons of gear – amps, speakers, PA, microphones, drums. He played guitar and sang backup vocals with Mary as lead vocalist in Done Deal, a popular cover band in the area including a bassist and drummer as well. We worked the next day at the Art 101 location making a coral reef from styrofoam, until the evening, when Done Deal was set to perform in a neighbouring town, Coquille, that night. Done Deal was really awesome and played all kinds of covers for more than three hours at a place called Mr. Zach’s.
The next two days we spent working for Washed Ashore, both with Mary, and right alongside with the creator and curator herself, Angela Haseltine Pozzi. There were a couple of other volunteers as well, including a girl who was wrapping up her full time position of volunteer coordinator at the public gallery, and making way for an upcoming six month vow of silence. We had begun work on a giant sculpture of sea kelp, perhaps a dozen feet high in the air and assembled with various green plastics washed up on shore from the ocean. The piece was envisioned to be percussive as well, as Angela’s work in many ways focuses on a hands-on experience. It rained on and off, as it was now spring and we were now in the Pacific Northwest, but we managed enough sunlight hours to get at least a lot of it finished. I got to use a bandsaw to cut shapes out of the plastic, and we assembled it all right on the side of the 101 Pacific Highway, at Art 101 in Bandon, Oregon.
We noticed another tiny house in this area, also. We were in Oregon now, basically right in the middle of tiny house popularity. Portland could be considered the true centre, but its effect ripples south to California and north through Washington and British Columbia as well. This tiny house was under construction and in the driveway of some kind of store that was closed. Because no one was around we measured the tiny house to see how ours would compare, and this one was slightly smaller by a foot or two in every dimension. The tiny house back at Solar Living Centre was made as a guest suite for the Centre and was very small, maybe half of what ours will be, but this one here in Bandon was essentially our future size, and although we couldn’t walk inside of it, it was good to see what we would be working with in terms of space once our project becomes complete, some time before this coming winter so that we have somewhere to live by then. Later when we got back to Mary and Anthony’s property, I laid some rope around in the grass to form the perimeter floor plan of our future tiny trailer. When I ran out of rope, I used painter’s tape. We could now see the layout of our future tiny house, and the dimensions seemed perfect!
We stayed an extra night longer, and before we left we were even offered a chance to stay and finish the work and even go to the unveiling at the San Francisco Zoo in a month’s time. That sounded great, and we would have loved to kept staying involved, but of course we could not, and had to keep moving up the west coast.
The unveiling did happen, as I am writing this post more than a month after the events herein, so you can check out the link along with a video for it RIGHT HERE.
Not long after Bandon we would have to drive east and away from the Pacific Ocean for a while, making our way to Portland, and we would not be seeing the west coast again until our return to Canada, from Port Angeles, Washington, to Victoria, British Columbia. We took a scenic drive out of town along the coast line and the beaches, which was among the most beautiful parts of the Pacific coastline we have seen. Check out Washed Ashore and go to Bandon, Oregon, a cute and friendly coastal town!
Increased cute factor: I almost posted this without mentioning that we had accumulated some “points” for volunteering with Washed Ashore which were redeemable in most of the Old Town Bandon establishments. We took these points for a discounted meal at a great Italian Restaurant. Beforehand, Mary had told us that the couple who own and run the restaurant are musicians, and at request, will serenade the dining room. Sure enough, when we mentioned it to the husband, he came back out with a guitar and his his wife with a violin, and they performed a few Italian songs. That’s Angelo’s Italy, in Bandon!